Kenneth Stockton was a man of letters, and correspondingly poor. He was the literary editor of a leading metropolitan daily; but this job only netted him fifty dollars a week, and he was lucky to get that much. The owner of the paper was powerfully in favour of having the reviews done by the sporting editor, and confining them to the books of those publishers who bought advertising space. This simple and statesmanlike view the owner had frequently expressed in Mr. Stockton’s hearing, so the latter was never very sure how long his job would continue.
One of my Covers, here in a cover block.
But Mr. Stockton had a house, a wife, and four children in New Utrecht, that very ingenious suburb of Brooklyn. He had worked the problem out to a nicety long ago. If he did not bring home, on the average, eighty dollars a week, his household would cease to revolve. It simply had to be done. The house was still being paid for on the installment plan. There were plumbers’ bills, servant’s wages, clothes and schooling for the children, clothes for the wife, two suits a year for himself, and the dues of the Sheepshead Golf Club–his only extravagance. A simple middle-class routine, but one that, once embarked upon, turns into a treadmill. As I say, eighty dollars a week would just cover expenses. To accumulate any savings, pay for life insurance, and entertain friends, Stockton had to rise above that minimum. If in any week he fell below that figure he could not lie abed at night and “snort his fill,” as the Elizabethan song naively puts it.
There you have the groundwork of many a domestic drama.